The three-member Cook County Board of Review operates largely below the radar, but it performs a key function, reviewing appeals of assessment office findings related to the value of property to make sure they are fair. It grants some degree of relief in about 70 percent of the hundreds of thousands of appeals it hears, and while in many cases the dollar amounts involved arenít huge, they can be. In a couple of recent years, for example, Sears Holdings Corp. successfully argued for a $30 million cut in the assessment on its Hoffman Estates headquarters. In District 1, which represents both the North and South suburbs, incumbent Republican Dan Patlak of Wheeling is being challenged by Democrat Casey Griffin of Midlothian, deputy Cook County recorder of deeds. The other two seats are held by Chicago Democrats. Patlak, who long worked for the board of review and later was Wheeling Township assessor, is running on his experience, the advantage of party balance in keeping an eye on assessments, and improvements that have been made in the two years he has been in office, best exemplified by tax bills getting out on time this year for the first time in 34 years. While we donít like the current property tax system in Cook County, which is unnecessarily complex and bureaucratic, and while we have qualms about Patlakís reliance on contributions from attorneys who handle tax appeals to fund his campaign, he is working effectively to improve the system as it is currently designed.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.